Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Keychain Tools for EDC
- Shooting in the Dark? The Top Five Low Light Fixes
- Top Five Pocket Carry Holsters
- Top Five Fixed-Blade Knives
- Top Five Modern Ways to Protect Hearing
In a previous article about carrying concealed when dressing up, I wrote the following about off-body carry:
“Off Body — I don’t condone off-body carry because that means your gun is potentially out of your reach or out of your control. Still, there are times when you might be able to get away with it, depending on other gear you’re willing to have with you, in your complete control, at all times. I’ve carried a gun in a planner binder made specifically for concealed carry and kept it in my hand or in a messenger bag I keep on my shoulder all the time. It’s an exercise in compromise, to be sure, but it is possible to carry this way. Carrying a gun off-body — presumably in some kind of holster or carrier or bag — might draw some attention from others and could require a longer time to access and deploy.
“Recommendation: Use an off-body carry system when you’re in a vehicle or when you know you’ll have that system in your complete control all of the time. Look into carry and concealment systems made specifically for off-body carry and consider their ability not only to hide a gun but also to lock it in place.”
That said, I hunted up some off-body carry solutions meeting those criteria. Here are my top five ways to carry off-body, with all kinds of caveats and warnings…
1. Zippered sleeve
But, keep in mind a few important rules: 1. Nothing else should be in the sleeve or compartment in which your gun resides. You don’t want to fumble past keys or other stuff if you need to get your hand on your gun quickly. 2. Consider not just the stability of the gun inside a sleeve but also its orientation. Your gun should be in a holster or carrier protecting the trigger guard and keeping the gun from moving around. Moreover, depending on the orientation of the sleeve, the muzzle of the gun might end up covering something you don’t intend to destroy.
It’s better if the zippered sleeve has some kind of locking mechanism too. Although zippered sleeves likely are manufactured from some kind of durable fabric and it’s probably short work to cut through it, you simply want to do whatever you can to ensure only authorized persons can get to the gun inside it.
With the growing popularity of private citizen concealed carry, many purse, bag and briefcase manufacturers have responded with gear offering a dedicated compartment for carrying a gun concealed — many with hook and loop attachments, stable carriers and a lot of style. This is good.
If you carry in such a rig, just keep in mind the need to keep it in-hand and under your complete control all the time. And make sure the gear — and your handling of it — is discreet. Purses, bags and briefcases are still targets for thieves, and if they suspect you have a gun in yours, you could easily become a target. As with all other means of concealed carry, keep the gun safety rules in mind at all times.
3. Sling pack
A sling pack is basically a single-strapped backpack. You can quickly throw it over your head and around your back for cross-body carry and because of the ease of use and utility, they’re growing in popularity.
Several manufacturers offer sling packs designed specifically for concealed carry. Usually the pack has a dedicated compartment for a handgun which you access by swinging the pack from your back to your front. In other words, the sling pack never comes off of you. In fact, it offers what I consider the best form of off-body carry because it is the most on-body.
4. Hard case
Hard cases might be a tough plastic or metal, but most of them have some sort of locking mechanism. They tend to be very secure and run the gamut from looking just like a typical gun case to being fairly innocuous, but they require extra steps to access what’s inside.
So, carrying your handgun in a hard case is an exercise in compromise: what you gain in security, you lose in accessibility. Other pros of carrying in a hard case are that your gun is protected from virtually all possibility of damage, dust or water; if the case is small, it is easily transported; and, if the case is large, it can carry extra gear, such as magazines, ammunition and more.
5. Concealed carry jacket
Carrying a handgun in the compartment of a concealed carry jacket is off-body, even though you wear the jacket and your gun is very close and protected. I classify it as “off-body” because the gun is merely hidden or covered inside the jacket as opposed to attached to your person.
A concealed carry jacket often features dedicated pockets for a gun and comes with hook-and-loop attachments for a holster or carrier, making it a stable and secure means of carry. You just have to remember to keep that jacket on at all times, and therein lies the potential disadvantage.
But, unlike all the other means addressed here, there’s no extra piece of gear to carry around…you’re just wearing a jacket. Other potential drawbacks: Depending on the construction of the jacket, the weight of the fabric, the location of the pockets and the size and weight of your gun, carrying concealed might yield a jacket that droops to one side or bulges in a strange way.
Off-body carry is possible but must be appropriately managed, and the best modes of off-body carry keep you in close contact with and in control of your gun at all times. All of these methods have their pros and cons, but my two favorites — depending on my circumstances and what gun I’m carrying — are the sling pack and the concealed carry jacket. What are yours?
For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.